While not as popular as their female counterparts, the men’s play doesn’t fall short in delivering just as much action and excitement. With the UAAP Season 81 Volleyball Tournament slated to commence on Saturday, here is a preview of some teams in the Senior Men division battling for volleyball supremacy.
National University Bulldogs
After settling for three consecutive runner-up finishes, the Bulldogs were back on top last season after dethroning the four-peat seeking Ateneo Blue Eagles.
The Sampaloc-based squad had played well in the off-season winning tournaments both here and abroad. The Bulldogs ruled the 2018 Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference after sweeping the UST Tiger Spikers in a best-of-three finals match. The squad also made a statement win during the ASEAN University Games in Naypyitaw, Myanmar after upsetting defending champions Thailand to win gold in the biennial meet for student-athletes.
The NU Bulldogs are in tip-top shape and will surely ride on their momentum going into the UAAP. The team still has a dependable attacker in Bryan Bagunas who tallied 260 points (213 kills, 28 kill blocks, 19 aces) in the previous season and still has a formidable net defender in Kim Malabunga and Francis Saura.
Far Eastern University Tamaraws
One thing that the FEU Tamaraws learned in the past season is that the journey is not about how you start, but how you finish.
The squad had the twice-to-beat advantage entering the semis but was not able to capitalize on the incentive as they were swept by the Ateneo Blue Eagles in their best-of-three semis series.
Moving on from last season’s heartbreak, the squad eyes no less than a season championship, a feat they last tasted in Season 74.
Ace player JP Bugaoan who was the team’s top scorer and defender last season is expected to lead the pack in its title quest, with additional support from Redijohn Paler and Mark Calado. Only libero Rico Marmento graduated.
In the off-season, the team—known for their impeccable defense—placed third in the 2018 Premiere Volleyball League Collegiate Conference with Bugaoan being hailed as the First Best Middle Blocker.
Adamson Soaring Falcons
For two straight years, the Adamson Soaring Falcons have placed fifth.
The San Marcelino-based squad could have booked a return trip to the Final Four last season had they won the play-off for the last semis spot against the UST Tiger Spikers.
This year, graduating Paolo Pablico who has shown great improvement during the off season is expected to carry this team to greater heights. The 5’10 spiker led the team to a fourth-place finish, and surprised everyone after bagging the Most Valuable Player plum in the 2018 Premiere Volleyball League Collegiate Conference. He averaged 15.1 points per game. He was also hailed as the 2nd best Outside Spiker.
While he can only do so much for the team, Pablico will need all the support from his team if they want to make it to the Final Four, a feat they last achieved two years ago.
University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons
The UP sports programs have been on the rise with the success of the Men’s Basketball Team and the Women’s Volleyball Team.
The growing support of the UP Community pushes its Men’s Volleyball Team to perform at their best. Having finished last season at 7th place, and without its go-to player Wendel Miguel who graduated last year, Mac Millete is expected to lead the relatively young squad in its hopes to get out of the tail end of the standings.
Graphics and featured image by Roc Verdera.
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